This Husband Blew Up a Passenger Airplane to Cash in on His Wife's Insurance

This Husband Blew Up a Passenger Airplane to Cash in on His Wife’s Insurance

By Khalid Elhassan
This Husband Blew Up a Passenger Airplane to Cash in on His Wife’s Insurance

On September 9th, 1949, Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 108, a DC-3 airplane, took off from Quebec. It followed a route roughly paralleling the Saint Lawrence River, whose ultimate destination was Seven Islands, a fishing village about three hundred miles from Quebec. In addition to a crew of four were nineteen passengers, including three children. Before reaching Seven Islands, Flight 108 was to land at Baie Comeau, but it never got there. At 10:45AM, the plane was staggered by an explosion, about forty miles northeast of Quebec.

Flight 108 plummeted straight into a wooded hillside called Cap Tourmente, and all aboard were killed. They included Rita Guay (nee Morel), the 29 year old wife of a Quebec jewelry salesman named J. Albert Guay, who seemed devastated by his loss. As it turned out, however, Guay had blown up the plane in a bid to get rid of his wife and cash in on her life insurance, as a prelude to marrying his mistress.

J. Albert Guay in 1949. Popper Photo

From Dysfunctional Marriage, to Mass Murder in Lieu of Divorce

Joseph-Albert Guay, a Roman Catholic French Canadian, was born in 1918. Short and slim, Guay grew into a handsome little man, with a winning smile that drew people to him. Between his good looks and a flashy sense of style – he was a sharp dresser – J. Albert, as he liked to be called, was a hit with the ladies. He loved music, and dreamt of becoming a famous singer or orchestra leader. However, he had neither the voice nor the talent, and so settled for incessantly whistling the latest hit tunes.

He eventually settled down to making a living as a jewelry and watch salesman, and during WWII, he met and married Rita Morrel. Things went fine at first, until the couple had a baby girl, and Albert Guay began resenting the fact that his wife’s attentions were now directed at the child instead of him. Simultaneously, his business began to fail, and he started piling up significant debts. To complicate things even further, Guay met and fell in love with a 17 year old waitress named Marie-Ange Robitaille, and under the false name Roger Angers, began a torrid affair with her.

Although he was drowning in debt, and was already married, Guay bought Marie-Ange an apartment – only a few blocks from the house where he lived with his wife and their baby girl – and asked her to marry him. When Rita, who was carrying on her own extramarital affairs, found out, she confronted the duo. Getting a divorce back then in Catholic Quebec was next to impossible, so when Marie-Ange found out that her lover was not the bachelor Roger Angers, but the married-with-a-child Albert Guay, she dumped him.

Albert Guay with his daughter. Ottawa Citizen

Guay figured he could win Marie-Ange back, but first he had to get out of the marriage. With divorce not being an option, he decided on murder. It would free him to remarry, and Rita’s life insurance would alleviate his debts. Guay tried poison at first, and offered somebody $500 to do the deed, but when that was rejected, he decided on murder by plane. So he enlisted the help of an associate named Genereaux Ruest to make a time bomb. Ruest in turn enlisted the help of his sister, Marguerite Pitre, who bought dynamite, fuses, and detonation caps at a hardware store – explosives were not well regulated in those days. Ruest, who was owed money by Guay, made the bomb out of 20 sticks of dynamite, batteries, and an alarm clock.

Guay then sent his wife off on Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 108, to run an errand for him in Baie Comeau. However, the plan hit a last moment hitch. As witnesses later told investigators, he and Rita had argued at the airport, because she did not want to get on the plane. However, he ultimately convinced her that it was necessary that she fly to Baie Comeau to retrieve some jewels he had purchased there, that were necessary for his business. He had already paid for the ticket, and his business – and the family’s finances – would suffer if he did not get that stuff ASAP. Reluctantly, Rita got on the plane. She should have listened to her instincts.